Network Wilmington Real Estate News

June 20, 2023

Home Loan Assistance Programs in Wilmington, NC

Home buyer calculated home loan and purchase costs


Many Wilmington home buyers don’t realize that the city offers several programs designed to help afford to buy a home. While certain programs are intended for first-time buyers, others are open to all home buyers.


In this blog, we will describe the local assistance programs available to buyers looking for a home in Wilmington, North Carolina.


Wilmington, NC Home Loan Assistance

If you’re interested in buying a home in Wilmington, NC, there are several home loan programs at your fingertips…


Home Ownership Pool (HOP)

In cooperation with a handful of local banks, the City of Wilmington offers loan assistance for low-to-moderate income households looking to buy a single-family home within city limits.


The program offerings include…


  • Up to $25,000 in downpayment assistance
  • 100% financing
  • And 0% interest rate on a specific chunk of the loan

Who is eligible?

To qualify for HOP assistance, you must…

  • Have a minimum credit score of 620
  • Earn below 130% of the area median income
  • Be purchasing a home in Wilmington city limits
  • And undergo the city’s Mandatory Home Buyer Education 

In order to receive HOP assistance, you must also undergo the city’s Mandatory Home Buyer Education.

How to apply

Choose one of the city’s upcoming Home Buyer Education classes, register, and attend. Then, you can fill out an application that will determine your eligibility for the loan assistance.



In addition to its flagship HOP program, the city now offers HOP 2GETHER, a FREE program that provides first-time home buyers with the tools and resources they need for the home buying process.


Through the program, participants receive: 

  • Up to $25,000 in downpayment assistance 
  • Free in-person and virtual one-to-one housing counseling
  • Resources and advice pertaining to pre- and post-purchase processes, financial management, credit education, and more
  • Custom tailored counseling according to participant needs
  • And quarterly workshops and homebuyer education

 Previous topics of quarterly HOP 2GETHER workshops include home maintenance, emergency disaster preparedness, homeowners insurance, and working with a real estate agent.

Who is eligible?

Any first-time home buyer (individual or family) who attends the HOP 2GETHER classes and is within the lowest 60% of the Area Median Income should take advantage of the program.

How to apply

To get started with HOP 2GETHER, call the City of Wilmington housing department at 910-341-7836. You will not be able to secure the loan assistance until you’ve completed the entire homebuyer education program.


Community Partners Loan Pool (CPLP)

Kingdom CDC, a member of the Community Partners Loan Pool (CPLP) through the NC Housing Finance Agency, offers a remarkable zero-interest, deferred second mortgage option for Wilmington home buyers. 


Through the program, home buyers can receive up to 25% or $50,000 (whichever is less) in downpayment assistance.


The assistance must be paired with either NC Home Advantage Mortgage™ or USDA Section 502 Loan. The amount of assistance you receive depends on the option you choose.

Who is eligible?

There are certain eligibility requirements for home buyers seeking to take advantage of the CPLP assistance:

  • A minimum credit score of 640
  • Attendance of the City of Wilmington’s Mandatory Home Buyer Education Class (see the HOP section above)
  • Income less than 80% of the New Hanover County median income
  • Qualification for an approved mortgage
  • Home sale price within predetermined limits for the New Hanover County 

Find this year’s income and sale price limits.

How to apply

Similar to the HOP Program, you must attend one of the city’s upcoming Home Buyer Education classes. Then, you can fill out an application that will determine your eligibility for the loan assistance.


Learn more about Wilmington Loan Assistance Programs

The best part about these programs? They are stackable! That means you can take advantage of all three programs if you qualify. 


To learn more about these programs and browse additional city housing, check out the City of Wilmington Housing page.


Network Real Estate | Wilmington, NC Real Estate

Looking for an affordable home in Wilmington, NC on a budget? The agents here at Network Real Estate have years of experience under their belts and can help you find some fantastic home options within your price range. 


Call us at 910-395-4100 today to start working with one of our dedicated agents.



Posted in Buying a Home
May 12, 2023

When to Make an Offer on a Home

A man talking with a Realtor about buying a home


When it comes to making an offer on a home, timing is key!


You don’t want to jump too quickly and offer up more money than necessary. But you ALSO don’t want to wait too long and miss out on a great home. 


In this blog post, we explain…

  • what to consider before putting in an offer on a home, 
  • how to decide on an offer amount, 
  • and when to make the leap.

Before You Make an Offer on a Home

Before you jump to make an offer on a home, there are several factors to consider. 

The housing market.

Conduct research on current housing market trends in your area. Although the entire country is experiencing a seller’s market right now, your area may have a market that is a little more favorable to buyers. 


You’ll want to get a pulse on…

  • Current home prices in the area
  • The demand for similar-priced homes in the area
  • The inventory of homes to choose from
  • Mortgage interest rates
  • And how quickly the market is moving 

Your real estate agent can provide critical help in this part of the home-buying process. With their local market expertise, they can provide a comparative market analysis that will allow you to determine a fair price for a home in your budget.

Your finances.

Early on in your home search, you are going to want to set your budget.


The three primary costs you should incorporate into your budget include:

  • Down payment (which can range from 0% to 20%, depending on your loan)
  • Closing costs (generally between 2% and 5%)
  • Moving expenses (including travel, moving company, etc.)

Be slightly conservative with your budget. You will want to have a little wiggle room in case any unexpected costs arise.

Once you determine your budget, the next step is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Minimally, you will need what is called a Conditional Approval. This document essentially states that you will most likely be approved for a loan of a particular size if all of the information you’ve given the mortgage lender is correct. 

However, this is still just a “conditional” approval. You still need to get your official loan offer from the bank, which can happen later in the home buying process.

The home condition.

It’s not yet time to do a home inspection, but you can get a good idea of a home’s condition if you pay close attention during your home tour. Determine what kind of repairs and renovations will be necessary once you move in.


Some things you should look out for include:

  • Roof damage
  • Stained, cracked, or damaged floors, ceilings, or walls
  • Old outdated HVAC and electrical systems
  • Cracks in the foundation
  • Water damage
  • Signs of termite damage
  • Strange gas odors
  • And signs of leaky plumbing

In addition to major repairs, you should also consider the cost of any renovations you might want to make in the first couple years living in the home. If you anticipate making substantial renovations to a low-priced home, make sure you are still getting a good deal after adding those costs.

The seller’s situation.

With a quick search of public records and real estate listings, you or your real estate agent might be able to gather valuable information about the homeowner’s motivations for selling. 


See if you can tell how long the house has been on the market and determine the seller’s level of urgency. Or, perhaps you will learn the seller wants to delay closing because of a set move date or their own home-buying challenges.


You can use all this information to present a winning offer and/or secure a good deal!

The home-buying competition.

How desirable is the home? If it is affordable AND in good condition, you will likely face more competition from other potential buyers. In this case, you may consider a higher offer.


Some things that could make a home more competitive include:

  • Convenient location
  • Safe neighborhood
  • Absence of major repairs
  • Modern or updated features
  • Relatively recent build
  • Affordable asking price
  • Plenty of square footage
  • Covered garage, fenced-in yard, and other preferred features

If you are particularly interested in a home after a home tour and think you may face significant competition, consider making an offer quickly – especially in today’s fast-moving housing market. 

How to Decide On an Offer Amount

To determine an appropriate offer, you can start by looking at the prices of comparable homes. 


Home search apps like Zillow and Homesnap allow you to view the sale prices of other houses in surrounding neighborhoods. Take advantage of these tools! See how the asking price matches up with the prices of nearby homes of the same size and condition. 


If the seller is asking for an amount too far above the price range of the homes in the surrounding area, you may be able to get away with a lower offer.


Remember, you should never feel pressured to make an offer you don’t feel comfortable with. Before you even start looking for homes, you should decide the maximum offer you are willing to make (see the “Your finances” subsection above).

When to Take the Leap

Now to the big question – when is the right time to submit your offer? 


The answer to this question depends entirely on your situation and the home you want to purchase. In a seller’s market like the one we are in today, buyers are unfortunately required to act fast to make an offer on a home. 


The best way to effectively time your offer is to work closely with a local real estate agent. An experienced, local agent can help you decide an appropriate offer amount and when to pull the trigger.

Network Real Estate | Wilmington, NC Region

Network Real Estate has earned a strong reputation for our excellent customer service and knowledge of local real estate. If you’re looking for REALTOR you can count on, you’re in the right place!


Let’s help you secure your ideal home! Call our agents today at 910-395-4100.



Posted in Buying a Home
April 24, 2023

What You Need to Know About Wilmington’s HOP Program

key with a house keychain


There are a wide range of loans and financial assistance programs out there for first-time homebuyers and people in niche communities – such as veterans and those seeking homes in rural areas. 


However, there aren’t too many programs that help homebuyers outside of those categories who still need a little extra financial help to purchase a new home in today’s seller’s market.


Fortunately, there is a program that can provide some welcome assistance to many homebuyers here locally in Wilmington, NC – whether first-time homebuyers, veterans, or neither.

What is the HOP Program?

The City of Wilmington Community Development & Housing department works with a number of local banks to offer low-to-moderate income homebuyers a generous home loan option. 


Through the HOP (Home Ownership Pool) Program, eligible recipients could receive up to $25,000 in downpayment assistance on a single family home purchased within the limits of Wilmington, North Carolina.


Some additional perks of the program include 100% financing and a 0% interest rate on a specific chunk of the loan. 

Who is eligible for the HOP Program?

Certain eligibility criteria must be met for a homebuyer to qualify for HOP assistance. You might be eligible for the program if you…

  • Have a minimum credit score of 620
  • Earn below 130% of the annual median income
  • And are purchasing a home in Wilmington city limits

In order to receive HOP assistance, you must also undergo the city’s Mandatory Home Buyer Education. 


Need to improve your credit score?


To boost your score, make sure you pay all of your bills on time and keep your credit card balances as low as possible. DO NOT close any current credit cards. Doing so can actually lower your credit score.

How do I apply for HOP assistance?

The first step is to register for the City of Wilmington’s Home Buyer Education class. Because there is a limited number of slots available and the program offerings are very attractive, classes fill up quickly. 


Make sure you check the City of Wilmington HOP web page periodically so you can register for the next available class.


After attending the class, you can fill out an application with the city that will determine your eligibility for Wilmington housing assistance. You may also be required to submit a number of essential documents, such as your recent credit report, pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns.

Learn more about the Wilmington HOP Program

In addition to the HOP program, the city offers a number of other fantastic homebuying assistance programs that you can stack together with HOP, including…

  • HOP 2gether (up to $25,000 in down payment assistance)
  • Community Partners Loan Pool (up to $50,000 or 20% in down payment assistance)

Learn more about the HOP Program and other local housing assistance programs on the City of Wilmington Housing page.

Network Real Estate | Wilmington, NC Real Estate

Looking for an affordable home in Wilmington, NC on a budget? The agents here at Network Real Estate have years of experience under their belts and can help you find some fantastic home options within your price range. 


Call us at 910-395-4100 today to start working with one of our dedicated agents.



Posted in Buying a Home
March 28, 2023

5 Effective Ways to Build Trust With a Realtor

Buying or selling property could be one of the most stressful processes you encounter — but that’s only if you don’t have a solid relationship with a realtor. 

It’s much easier to achieve your real estate goals if you’re working with a trusted realtor who communicates well, understands what you want, and manages your expectations. 

Here, we discuss how you can effectively build trust with a realtor. 

Strengthen the Professional Relationship with Your Realtor 

Professionalism, honesty, and constant communication are the starting point of building trust in a relationship. Let’s dive into five other effective ways of doing so. 

● Be Proactive with Voicing Concerns 

Don’t just agree with what they say — and don’t say no to everything without explanations, either. Voice out your concerns and anything else that needs clarification as early as possible so they can be addressed faster. 

● Learn to Hold Each Other Accountable 

All relationships — including professional ones — are a two-way street. You and your realtor must hold each other accountable for every stage of the process. This means acknowledging limitations and setting realistic expectations. 

● Adapt to Each Other’s Communication Style 

Take the time to understand each other’s communication style — and always be open about your concerns. This way, you can minimize misunderstandings and always be on the same page regarding your real estate dealings.

● Connect with Them on Social Media 

Almost everyone uses social media in their downtime — others may also use these platforms to promote and run their business. Connect with your realtor on a deeper scale by interacting with them on social media. 

● Make an Effort to Get to Know Them 

Realtors are human, too. If you want to build trust with your realtor, you have to try to get to know them beyond the services they provide for you. This way, you can better understand their approach to helping you. 

Working with a realtor isn’t entirely about business. Both parties must understand that you should be working as a team — and these five tips help with that. Once you realize you’re on the same team, it will be easier to build trust with them. 

Find a Realtor You Can Trust Today | Network Real Estate Wilmington, NC 

Our agents and brokers at Network Real Estate can help you buy, sell, rent, and manage properties in Wilmington, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and throughout southeastern North Carolina. 

We know the local neighborhoods and real estate like the back of our hands. So you can count on us to help you secure the best deals on the market. 

Looking for a realtor you can trust? Look no further. Call us now at 910-395-4100.


Most Common Home-Buying FAQs

Choosing a Mortgage Lender

Top 5 Best Places to Live in Leland, NC

Posted in Finding a Realtor
Nov. 22, 2022

Wilmington, NC Area Holiday Events 2022

Young girl outdoors during holiday season.


Residents who live in and around Wilmington, NC enjoy a wide variety of treasured holiday festivities throughout November, December, and January of each year. 


New to the area? Here are some events that you’ll want to mark on your calendar.

Holiday 5K Runs & Walks

Dec. 3 — Jingle Bell Run 5K Fun Run. Calling all Christmas-lovers who love a good run! Come decked out in your most festive holiday apparel for the annual Wrightsville Beach Museum of History holiday 5K. You could even win a prize for best holiday costume! Visit the website.


Dec. 31 — Carolina Beach State Park Half Marathon & 5K NYE Run. Kick off the New Year with a 13.1 or 3.1-mile trail race through the unique terrain of Carolina Beach State Park. While you’re running, you can enjoy the sights of the rolling pines and the Cape Fear River. Register here.

Holiday Markets

Dec. 2-4 — The Holiday Flea at the BAC. Called the “ultimate vintage flea,” you’re sure to find something unique and retro at the Brooklyn Arts Center’s annual holiday market. It’s the perfect place to find a one-of-a-kind gift for your one-of-a-kind loved ones. Visit the website.


Dec. 3 — Carolina Beach Holiday Market. Another local favorite, locals and visitors are welcome any time of day to do some holiday shopping and support local vendors at Carolina Beach Lake Park. Check out the event Facebook page.

Christmas Light Events

Nov. 25-27 — NC Holiday Flotilla at Wrightsville Beach. Floods of people come to Wrightsville Beach the Saturday following Thanksgiving for an annual festival in the park, a stunning lighted boat parade, and an exquisite fireworks show. If you hope to attend the boat parade, make sure you arrive early. Parking goes fast! Check it out.


Nov. 30 - Jan. 2 — Cape Fear Festival of Trees. The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a family favorite year-round. But when the holiday season starts, it gets even better! Local artists, businesses, and organizations transform the venue into an enchanting winter wonderland. Buy tickets online.


Nov. 25 & 26; Dec. 2-22 — Enchanted Airlie. One of the most popular holiday light displays in Wilmington, the already beautiful Airlie Gardens are decked out in millions of twinkling lights at the onset of the holiday season, just for locals to stroll through and admire. However, tickets always sell fast! If you miss this year, go ahead and bookmark this tab for next year – Buy tickets online. 


Dec. 3 — Live Oak Bank Pavilion Tree Lighting, Movie, & Ice Skating. This year, the City of Wilmington is putting on a tree lighting ceremony at the Live Oak Bank Pavilion – kicking the night off with a Cape Fear Chorale performance at 5:45 p.m. and featuring a movie (The Grinch) on the lawn, face paintings, a food truck, FREE hot chocolate, a visit from Santa, and ice skating. Learn more.


Dec. 3 — Island Lights Christmas Flotilla. Fishing boats and pleasure crafts arrayed with beautiful (and creative) light displays? Count me in! Like the Wrightsville Beach flotilla, the Carolina Beach rendition is one of the best ways to start the holiday season right in Wilmington. View the website.

Holiday Entertainment & Shows

Dec. 10-11, 17-18 — Polar Express Holiday Show. Looking for a fun (educational) family-friendly event? Your kids will LOVE this immersive Polar Express experience – with punched golden train tickets and even a visit with Santa. View the website.


Dec. 16 — Kure Beach Holiday Whoobie Whatty. A big fan of The Grinch? Join other Grinch-loving locals for an immersive Whoville-themed event – featuring the 2000 Grinch movie, face painting, crafts, cookie decorating, and more! Learn more.


Dec. 18-19 — The Great Wilmington Nutcracker Ballet. Each year, the Wilmington Ballet Company partners with the U.S. International Ballet to put on this stunning holiday classic. Secure your seats early to watch the exquisite performance with stilt walkers, high-tech digital imagery, and 30+ exceptional dancers. Buy tickets online.


Thalian Hall. From the Celtic Angels Christmas to a showing of the Christmas Carol to a screening of It’s a Wonderful Life, you can catch a variety of festive shows at Thalian Hall throughout the holiday season. Check 2022 showings.

Other Holiday Fun

Nov. 26 - Dec. 17 — Christmas By The Sea. Throughout the holiday season, the Town of Carolina Beach hosts a variety of activities – ranging from a festive holiday parade and a film showing along Carolina Beach Lake to a Holiday Market and visits with Santa. Learn more.


Dec. 1-24 — Mayfaire Town Center Holiday Events. A popular shopping center in northeast Wilmington, Mayfaire Town Center hosts a wide variety of holiday events every year – from visits and photo opportunities with Santa Claus to Holiday Story Time at Barnes and Noble and more! Visit the website. 


Dec. 2 — Island of Lights Christmas Parade. Traditionally held on the Friday following Thanksgiving weekend, the annual holiday parade at Carolina Beach on Lake Park Boulevard is FREE for all. So, come enjoy the festive floats, music, and a visit from Santa Claus. Learn more.


Dec. 16-17, 23-24 — Caroling by “Reindeer” Drawn Carriage or Trolley. Santa will join Wilmington’s Christmas music-loving families for a magical carriage or trolley ride through the stunning Historic Downtown Wilmington for some caroling. Visit the website.

New Year Events

Dec. 31 — Island of Lights New Year’s Eve Celebration. The free, iconic ball-drop event of the Wilmington area is being hosted at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk this year. So, come join the rest of the town for dancing, refreshments, and fireworks. Visit the website.


Dec. 31 — New Year’s Eve Roaring ‘20s Ball. Swing into the new year with style at this ticketed Great Gatsby-themed ball. Get tickets online.


Jan. 1 — Plunging into the New Year. There’s no more exhilarating way to kick off the New Year! Join the other brave souls of the Wilmington area to plunge into the chilling Wrightsville waves and raise money for Communities In Schools of Cape Fear. Register online.

Network Real Estate | Wilmington, NC 

Looking to move to the Wilmington area? Whether you want to settle in Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, or Kure Beach, we can help you find your perfect home in this vibrant area! Check out the homes for sale, or give our agents a call at 910-395-4100.


Posted in Local Events
Nov. 8, 2022

Best Things to Do in Carolina Beach, NC During the Off-Season



From the Carolina Beach Boardwalk to its warm sandy beaches, the vibrant town of Carolina Beach, NC is a favorite summer vacation spot for tourists and residents alike. However, many locals actually prefer the area during the off-season.

The town and surrounding areas have a wide variety of unique features, events, and activities open to the public during fall, winter, and early spring.

Here are just a few of our favorite off-season Carolina Beach activities

1) Explore Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher – the site of the largest sea battle in the Civil War – is a superb place to visit in chillier months. During the war, the fort served as a key supply route for inland Confederate armies. We suggest spending time walking through the indoor and outdoor exhibits of the Fort Fisher State Historic Site, learning the history of the battle. Every January, the fort celebrates the anniversary of The Battle of Fort Fisher, putting on a free reenactment of the battle for the public. 

2) Take a Hike at Carolina Beach State Park

The off-season in Carolina Beach never gets too cold. The mild temperatures are perfect for a scenic hike along the seven miles of beautiful wooded trails at Carolina Beach State Park. The park is also an ideal spot for camping or a picnic along the Intracoastal Waterway.

3) Visit the Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Another local favorite, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher makes for an exciting trip for the whole family. At the aquarium, you can expect to encounter eels, sharks, albino alligators, a growing otter family, baby sea turtles, and even feel the smooth skin of a stingray. And the aquarium gets even better during the holidays. During the annual Cape Fear Festival of Trees, visitors can not only admire the sea life, but they can also enjoy the beautiful Christmas trees decorated by local businesses and artists and interspersed throughout the aquarium.

4) Attend Local Holiday Events

In addition the the major holiday events at Fort Fisher and the aquarium, Carolina Beach features a variety of other unique coastal holiday traditions – most prominent of which is the Island of Lights Festival. An entire week full of holiday fun, the festival consists of a holiday light display at Carolina Beach Lake Park, a Christmas By the Sea tour with Santa Claus, a Christmas Parade, an Island of Lights Flotilla competition, and more!

5) Roast Marshmallows on a Beach Fire at Freeman Park

In the mood for s’mores on the beach? No problem! With a permit, you can set up a beach fire and roast marshmallows at Freeman Park on the north end of Carolina Beach. In fact, you can even drive your 4x4 vehicle right onto the beach and set up camp for the night. Amazing, right?


Network Real Estate | Leland, NC 

Searching for a home in or around Carolina Beach, NC? Our agents are happy to help you start your home search process.Call us today at 910-395-4100.



Posted in Local Events
Nov. 1, 2022

Top 5 Best Places to Live in Leland, NC

One of the fastest growing towns in the Wilmington, North Carolina region, Leland has boomed over the last couple of decades with a variety of spectacular neighborhoods, attracting new residents from all over the country.

Over the years, the Network Real Estate team has seen several communities emerge as the most vibrant and loved. Below, we have listed our top choices…

1) Compass Pointe

Voted in 2021 as one of the top 100 places to live in the U.S. by Ideal-Living, the Compass Pointe gated community is by far one of the most attractive neighborhoods to new residents looking for a good place to retire or settle with their family. Offering a wide range of resort-style amenities – from a golf course to a luxury swimming pool and nearby trails and conservation areas – the neighborhood has it all! PLUS, Compass Pointe is in the perfect location, just about 10 minutes away from historic downtown Wilmington and 30 minutes away from Wrightsville Beach.

2) Brunswick Forest

Like Compass Pointe, the Brunswick Forest community offers residents a variety of spectacular amenities. The impressive Brunswick Fitness & Wellness Center features award-winning tennis and pickleball courts, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, an aerobics studio, massage therapy, and more! The area is ideally suited for nature-lovers, featuring more than 100 miles of walking and biking trails and providing easy access to kayak and canoe along the Cape Fear River via a community dock.

3) Grayson Park

A popular lower-cost Leland, NC community, Grayson Park features well-crafted 3-5-bedroom townhomes, each constructed with energy efficiency in mind. Residents have access to an excellent fitness center, large swimming pool, lighted tennis courts, a community playground, and more! Plus, Homeowner’s Association dues ensure that the remarkable neighborhood maintains its charm and high quality amenities.

4) Waterford of the Carolinas

Are you a big fan of kayaking, canoeing, fishing, or simply lounging by the water? A true waterfront neighborhood, Waterford of the Carolinas is interspersed with a network of lakes, creeks, and canals that offer residents a range of recreational opportunities. Plus, when you live at Waterford, location is definitely on your side – in close proximity to more than 50 restaurants, shops, medical facilities, and service, with historic downtown Wilmington just 5 minutes away!

5) Mallory Creek Plantation

One of the largest communities in Leland, NC, Mallory Creek Plantation offers potential residents a wide range of living style options, containing 15 major subdivisions and some of the area’s most appealing townhomes and single-family homes. Residents will enjoy all the area offers – from fabulous amenities to the nearby historic downtown Wilmington and Brunswick River Park.

Network Real Estate | Leland, NC 

Ready to start your Leland, NC home search? Our agents are happy to help you start your home search process.Call us today at 910-395-4100.


Posted in Buying a Home
Sept. 19, 2022

Choosing a Mortgage Lender – How to Get The Best Lender in 2022

Before you even start house-hunting, it’s a good idea to shop around for lending options. The Network Real Estate team put together this guide to help you navigate the mortgage loan process and find the very best loan possible.

The Mortgage Loan Process

To secure a good home loan, there are several steps you must take…

1) Assess your financial situation.

To set yourself up for mortgage loan success, you should first make sure your finances – from your credit score to your debt-to-income ratio – are in good shape. Do what you can to boost your credit score. The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to get a good loan with low interest rates.

How can you improve your credit score?

Attempt to pay all of your bills on time and pay off your credit card balances in a timely manner. 

It’s also a good idea to work on your debt-to-income ratio. The more debt you have, the less likely lenders will be to give you a good deal. Try to pay off your debts as much as possible – your goal should be a debt-to-income ratio of around 36%.

2) Brush up on the different loans

A critical component of securing a home loan is learning the language mortgage lender’s speak. That means knowing about the different home loans…

  • Conventional Loans – With a good credit score (620 or higher), you can often secure down payments as low as 3%.
  • FHA Loans – A little more lenient with credit score, FHA loans only require you to fall in the 500 to 580 range. With an FHA loan, you could look at 3.5% down.
  • VA Loans – Reserved for current and veteran military service members, VA loans are arguably the BEST mortgage rates and require a credit score of 620.
  • USDA Loans – For people with low-to-moderate incomes who are buying homes in designated rural areas, USDA loans require zero down payment and a credit score of 640.
  • Jumbo Loans – These loans are generally given to finance properties that are too pricey for conventional loans.

NOTE: North Carolina also offers Housing Finance Agency Assistance through state-specific interest rates and down payment help. The NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment offers up to $8,000 toward your home purchase. However, to receive this help, you need a minimum credit score of 640 and a debt-to-income ratio under 43%.

You also have options regarding your mortgage term. More often than not, home buyers choose a 30-year fixed-rate that is paid off in 30 years and comes with an interest rate that never changes. However, you can also opt for a 5-year rate, which offers a lower interest rate and larger monthly payments. Some lenders even offer adjustable rate mortgages with interest rates that change depending on the market.

3) Find multiple mortgage lenders & compare their rates.

The next step? Determining “where” you can get a loan. You have several options…

  • Conventional Banks – Along with savings and checking accounts, your average bank typically also offers mortgage loans.
  • Credit Unions – To get a loan with a credit union, you first need to be a member. Some people prefer credit unions because of their more personal service.
  • Non-Bank Mortgage Lenders – There are also companies that exist only to grant mortgage loans‌ offering a quick turnaround time.
  • Mortgage Brokers – If you want a little more guidance with the lender-selection process, hiring a mortgage broker may be the way to go.
  • Wholesale Lenders – Unlike direct lenders like banks, credit unions, and nonbank mortgage lenders, wholesale lenders never actually interact with borrowers, doing all their business through mortgage brokers.
  • Hard Money Lenders – These are private investors that offer loans secured by real estate and typically require quicker repayment.

To make an educated decision, you need to take time to browse at least 3 or 4 lender options, gathering quotes and information from several lenders and comparing their estimated rates, fees, and down payments. 

4) Apply for mortgage pre-approval.

Once you have narrowed down your list to a few of your best lender options, submit a preapproval application to your top choices. After doing a thorough evaluation of your credit and financial situation, lenders may decide to pre-approve you for a loan.

A mortgage pre approval letter can provide the proof you need to show real estate agents and sellers that you can truly afford to purchase a home, giving you a leg up on your competition.

NOTE: Borrowers often confuse “preapproval” with “prequalification,” the latter of which is NOT an official, verified approval, but merely an estimate of the loan amount you may secure. 

5) Compare loan estimates & decide!

Along with the preapproval letter, lenders should provide a detailed loan estimate, including information about interest rates, fees, down payments, and many other factors you’ll want to take into consideration as you’re choosing the best lender. 

If you still have questions after receiving the estimate, ‌ask. Ultimately, the more informed you are about your loan options, the better decision you will make.

What to Consider Before Choosing Your Lender

Be sure to ask lenders LOTS of questions. Below, we’ve listed several of the best questions to discuss with mortgage lenders.

  • How long will the loan process take?
  • Who will be my main contact throughout the process?
  • Which steps take place online vs. in-person?
  • What will my down payment, fees, and rates be?
  • What kind of mortgage loans do you offer?
  • What credit score and debt-to-income ratio do you require?
  • Should I have an Escrow account? 
  • Do you offer Mortgage Points? What about a Mortgage Rate Lock?
  • Do you offer “preapproval” or “prequalification”?
  • Is there a prepayment penalty?

Once you have all the information, it’s time to choose! But which factors should play the heaviest role in your decision?

The most significant factors you’ll want to consider are a loan’s interest rate, associated fees (application fees, underwriting costs, etc.), down payment percentage, and mortgage insurance payment. 

Network Real Estate | Wilmington, NC Area 

Have more questions about the home loan process? The Network Real Estate team can answer your questions AND provide you with meaningful lender connections in the Wilmington area. 

Looking to secure a home loan in Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, or Kure Beach? We are here to help! Call us at 910-395-4100.


Posted in Buying a Home
Sept. 7, 2022

First-Time Home Buyer in Wilmington, NC? What You Need to Know

Buying a home for the first time can be scary. To make your home-buying process easier, our real estate agents have put together a list of valuable advice for first-time home buyers in and around Wilmington, NC.

What do you need to save up for?

When you’re preparing to purchase a home, there are three main things you should start saving your money for:

  • Down Payment – Your down payment will depend on your lender and the mortgage you choose. Certain conventional loans require as little as 3% down, but more often than not, lenders will require a down payment closer to 20%. Regardless, even a 3% down payment can add up to. Say you’re hoping to purchase a $300,000 home – 3% of that would be $9,000 (and 20% would be $60,000).
  • Closing Costs – These are the expenses and fees buyers pay to complete a mortgage. They fall between 2% and 5% of the loan amount. It is possible to save a little on closing costs by asking the seller to contribute to the closing costs or pay for the home inspection (although; they are not required to comply).
  • Moving Expenses – Once the purchase is official, you still need to have some money on-hand to account for costs associated with moving, including any immediate home repairs, improvements, or new furniture. You’ll want to put aside several thousands of dollars just to make the move.

REMEMBER: Although housing prices may gradually start falling back to pre-pandemic levels, it is still a good idea for North Carolina home buyers to budget high. 

How important is your debt-to-income ratio?

When determining whether you can afford to buy a house, you should not only consider the costs, but you also need to be aware of things like your credit score and debt-to-income ratio.

A low debt-to-income ratio is critical to ensure you stay within your home-buying budget – not only in the short-term (with the down payment, closing costs, and moving expenses), but also in the long term (with your monthly mortgage rate). 

Plus, lenders often place a great deal of weight on your debt-to-income ratio. In most cases, lenders prefer your overall debt to be only 40% of your income. And any housing debts should fall under 32%.

How to check (and build) your credit score

Your credit score is one of the other big factors lenders consider. A low credit score could disqualify you from a loan AND have a big impact on the interest rates lenders offer. Our team recommends first-time home buyers aim for a minimum credit score of 640.

But how can you check your credit score?

You can get FREE copies of your credit reports from certain credit bureaus, including Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. If you see any errors in your report that could harm your score, you can even dispute them.

To boost your score, make sure you pay all of your bills on time and keep your credit card balances as low as possible. DO NOT close any current credit cards. Doing so can actually lower your credit score.

What are your NC mortgage options?

In North Carolina, home buyers have a variety of home loan options – all with varying eligibility and down payment requirements. The main categories include:

  • Conventional Loans – The most common home loan, conventional loans are left entirely to the individual lender’s discretion. With a credit score of 620 or higher, you can secure down payments as low as 3%. With these loans, you can usually stop paying mortgage insurance after a few years.
  • FHA Loans – Backed by the Federal Housing Administration, FHA loans offer more lenient financial requirements and are a plausible option for buyers who have credit scores in the 500 to 580 range. With an FHA loan, you could look at 3.5% down. But you will still need to pay mortgage insurance until you sell your home, pay off your loan, or refinance to a different type of mortgage.
  • VA Loans – Guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA loans are reserved for current and veteran military service members. Arguably the best mortgage rates, they usually require no down payment, no ongoing mortgage insurance, and a minimum credit score often around 620.
  • USDA Loans – The U.S. Department of Agriculture backs these loans for people with low-to-moderate incomes who are buying homes in designated rural areas. Like VA loans, USDA loans require zero down payment. But, unlike VA loans, buyers still must pay (low) mortgage insurance rates, and lenders often require a credit score of 640.
  • North Carolina Housing Finance Agency Assistance – North Carolina also offers some state-specific interest rates and down payment help. The NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment offers to $8,000 toward your purchase. However, to get such help, you must have a minimum credit score of 640 and a debt-to-income ratio under 43%. Learn more here.

NOTE: You also have options regarding your mortgage term. More often than not, home buyers choose a 30-year fixed-rate that is paid off in 30 years and comes with an interest rate that never changes. However, you can also opt for a 5-year rate, which offers a lower interest rate and larger monthly payments.

Once you’ve received several loan estimates, compare your options. DO NOT just settle on the first loan you are offered. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends requesting loan estimates for the same type of mortgage from multiple lenders to compare costs adequately.

When should you hire a Realtor®?

Once you’ve determined that you can afford to buy a home and have a general idea of your budget, you can go ahead and reach out to a local real estate agent. 

Do NOT feel like you have to wait until your mortgage loan is finalized before you can call a Realtor®. In fact, good real estate agents will offer up their expertise on mortgage lenders in your area and help you find options within your budget.

Need help choosing a real estate agent? Here are the 9 steps you should take.

Network Real Estate | Wilmington, NC Area 

At Network Real Estate, our agents know the Wilmington area like the back of their hands. We have agents specializing in neighborhoods and properties across New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender counties. 

We don’t rest until our clients have moved safely into the home of their dreams! And once you’re in your new home, we will do all we can to ensure you have all the resources you need to succeed as a Wilmington area homeowner.

Looking to buy a home in Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, or Kure Beach? We are here to help! Call us at 910-395-4100.


Posted in Buying a Home
July 28, 2022

Staging Your Home to Sell (Top 5 Tips)

Staging Your Home to Sell (Top 5 Tips)

Staging a home can be one of the most exciting times for a homeowner. In this crucial time, you don’t want to leave anything undone with your home. In this list, we will discuss five tips to stage your home to sell.

Removing Clutter

Over time, nearly every home will start to become cluttered. Before staging your home is the perfect to start removing clutter. If you need the incentive to get started on this project, think of the valuable items you have that might be lying around. Also, donating gently used items to charity is a big benefit of removing clutter. Having a clutter-free home will let guests have all the space they need to see their potential new living area.

Deep Cleaning Entire Home

After removing clutter from your home, you may notice that time has not been kind to the surfaces of your home. It is wise to deeply clean your entire house before it is staged. You want to present every potential home buyer with a fully cleaned home. There are many areas in a home that can gather dirt and dust. Ensure that you thoroughly clean all floors, as they will have likely amassed a lot of foot traffic.

Give Spare Rooms A Purpose

Each room in your staged home should have some sort of theme. Of course, there are the obvious bedrooms and bathrooms but what about those spare rooms? Many homeowners may feel that bare extra space is all that is needed to entice buyers. However, buyers go into homes thinking of the experiences that they will enjoy in your home. Having a home that is filled with empty rooms doesn’t bode well for creating any imagery for a buyer.

Accenting without Overdecorating

You will want to take the opportunity, when staging your home, to ensure that large surfaces are accented. Some can overdo it with their accents until they have created clutter. Place one to three decorative items on surfaces like tables to add a visual flair to any room. Wall art is another great accenting idea that can be used to add value to your staged home. It is a good idea to use the accenting time of your staging to check the attic for any old decorations that could help out.

Repaint Problem Areas

As you’ve likely seen with your floors, walls are another area that can accumulate dust and dirt. Use a staging as the time to either paint your walls a different color or repaint with the same color choice. Repainting your walls presents a sense of freshness to your home, no matter which color you choose. However, try to avoid any colors that could be off-putting, especially overly bright colors that could be distracting. In closing, there are many benefits associated with staging your home. If you need help in selling your home, please give us a call! Our professionals can help you sell your home as soon as possible.

Posted in Selling Your Home